The Chicago Blackhawks have been collecting nominations for the various NHL awards like they have been playoff wins over the last two weeks, and head coach Joel Quenneville joined the party on Friday when he was nominated for the Jack Adams Award, given to the league’s best coach.
Also nominated were Ottawa Senators boss Paul Maclean, and Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks.
There were several notable absences on the list, including Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien and Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, but with Quenneville’s nomination secure, the question is this: should he win the award?
The answer, unfortunately, is no. Yes, Quenneville was on the hot seat this season after losing in the first round of the playoffs in consecutive years. Yes, Quenneville led his team to the best record in the league despite playing in the arguably tougher Western Conference, and with a condensed schedule to deal with to boot. Yes, just about every move that Quenneville made this season paid dividends, including keeping Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on separate lines for the vast majority of the campaign.
All of those things point to a coach that is probably the best at his craft, but no amount of moves or wins could come close to matching what Maclean was able to do with the Senators. No, his team’s first round upset of the Canadiens won’t count toward his candidacy, but with all of the injuries to key players, including last season’s Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, that this team had to deal with, a playoff berth was far from a certainty.
In addition to Maclean’s performance, the award generally goes to a team that does the most despite adversity, with coaches like Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes and Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues winning in recent years. In fact, the last coach to win the award in the same season that his team won the President’s Trophy (which the Blackhawks won this year) was actually Quenneville, who won it with the Blues in 2000.
Will Quenneville join Orval Tessier, the only Hawks coach to win the Adams, by winning it in 2013? Only time will tell, but if the NHL Broadcasters Association does their job correctly, then the award should be heading north of the border instead.